Row vs Wade and the Supreme Court

Guest Post by Rowan Wade

We know this is a very sensitive topic and we know that there are strong arguments for both sides, so we are going to attempt to make a case for both sides. We ask that you not take offence if you believe differently or have different experiences. None of this is said with malicious and we would love your thoughts and insights. Noteworthy disclaimer: we are not experts on the matter and just wanted to chime in our 2 cents.

To fully understand both sides it would probably be best to venture into history and uncover where they found their beginnings. You might find some of this interesting.

To wade is to walk in water when partially immersed. You often see children wading in water in shallow pools or river sides. It is not like swimming, as your feet are still on solid ground. Wading is effective in shallower bodies of water like streams or ponds. You would not be able to wade in the ocean or in a rushing river.

Wade, or to wade, found it’s beginnings at the start of human life. As soon as humans could walk, they could wade.


To Row or rowing is how a boat is propelled forward by how water is displaced through the motion of oars.  Row has appeared in multiple literature works and has made many appearances on the big screen. From the children’s nursery rhyme Row, Row, Row Your Boat to countless depictions of rowing in film it really has taken water crossings to a whole new level.

Row, or to row, has its origins placed in the BC years between ancient Egypt and Greece and in some cases even Finland.

Now that we know a bit more about the origins of both row and wade, we can now explore their effectiveness in crossing several bodies of water. You might be surprised to find that there is not always a clear winner.


Wading through a stream would be a lot more effective than crossing with a rowboat since a stream is shallow. The oars on a rowboat needs sufficient water to displace in order to cause the propelling motion forward. Not only that, but with the stream being so shallow, the oars or even the boat itself might touch the bottom of the stream. Yes, you might stay dry, but you will not get to the other side of the stream with a rowboat. Wading is effective and so much easier.

There are many types of rivers, for this article we are simply going to focus on the kinds of rivers that can be seen on a map. Meaning, it has some substance and global warming hasn’t dried it up. If you were brave, you could try wading through such a river, a river’s current is strong and, in many cases, too deep to wade through, you might end up swimming. The stronger contender here is rowing. This is where white river rafting came from, people rowing over the rapids in canoes.
Also, there is the added danger of crocodiles, snakes and other dangerous animals that call a river home. In a rowboat you are safer than wading or trying to wade through.


Whether it is a man made or nature made a dam is a deep reservoir of water with streams and rivers flowing to it and in some cases, from it also. As with a river, it would be safer and easier to row across a dam than it would be to wade through it. Many of the same dangers lurk in dams, however a dam has a weaker current than a river.


We want to caution against wanting to cross an ocean either way. You would be able to wade into an ocean and would very quickly be knocked down and a rowboat closer to shore would be okay but crossing oceans with a rowboat is not advisable. A rowboat would turn into kindling after an open water storm, and you would be shark bait. Abort mission!

When it comes to crossing a body of water, there are MANY other and arguably more effective ways of crossing. Bridges, speed boats, cruise ships, submarines, airplanes, helicopters or if it’s a small body of water, just walk around it.

Let’s not only put two of the least effective ways up against each other but consider other means and ways. We are living in a time where you can cross a body of water with a hovercraft.

Who still rows or wades? Well, the Supreme Court has taken up the arguments for this case and will likely decide that one is better than the other. The draft document was leaked, and this caused the Supreme Court’s life raft to take on water. Water they gonna do? Right now this is anyone’s guess.

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